Research Reports

Interaction of non-driving tasks with driving

Principal Investigator:

Wende Dewing, Sara Johnson, Stirling Stackhouse

February 1995

Report no. Mn/DOT 1995-20REV

Topics: Driver Performance and Behavior

Drivers often perform tasks alone or in combination that don't relate to control of their vehicle. This experiment evaluates the impact on simulated driving of performing non-driving tasks. The results showed that some of these tasks significantly degraded driving performance. The task that required drivers to use the map device caused the greatest problem. In addition, older drivers performed less well than younger drivers. The study shows objective reasons for evaluating the trade-offs between maximizing traffic safety and providing drivers with information that requires a high degree of visual attention. In the experiment, drivers performed the following secondary tasks alone, as pairs, or all three simultaneously: talking on a simulated cellular telephone, finding an object in an enclosed container, and using a special radio with head-up map and text displays. The experiment required drivers to maintain speeds of 25 to 30 miles per hour, keep the car centered in their traffic lane, and respond quickly to the appearance of simulated brake lights. Researchers divided subjects into four groups of 10 members each: young females and males with an average age of 31 and older females and males with an average age of 70.

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